The difference between a manufactured home and a modular home can seem confusing. Both of these factory-built or prefab housing types get built in on a factory assembly line, not on the homeowner’s homesite to increase the speed of home construction and reduce the cost of construction.
When you buy a manufactured home, you buy a specific plan, with a fixed layout. Unless your home is very large, your builder assembles the parts of in their plant, before delivering the complete house to the homesite in one or two pieces. With modular homes, you pick out a range of factory created modules that get assembled into a complete home at the homesite. In this case, the flexible components can produce virtually any floor plan.
More About Manufactured Homes
Once delivered to the homeowner’s land, a manufactured home rests on a permanent supporting frame or foundation. The frame consists of welded steel beams with joists slighted cambered to withstand the shock of transportation.
For homeowners who want aconcrete foundation, the home is secured with tie-down straps and anchors.
More About Modular Homes
A modular home consists of factory-made sections, shipped to the homesite on a flatbed truck, and assembled by contractors. The “parts” may include complete kitchen, bath or room modules (fully wired and plumbed), wall panels and trusses. Modular homes are put in place on solid foundations.
Manufactured VS Modular Home Building Codes
One of the main differences between a manufacture home and a modular home are the code standards that they must meet.
A manufactured home must meet the guidelines of the federal National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards, a strict standard administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Modular homes only have to meet local and state building codes, and get approved by local building inspectors.
The HUD code regulates the construction and quality of all aspects of building a manufactured house, including: design, construction, quality, durability, fire resistance, energy efficiency, HVAC performance, and wind resistance. The HUD code supersedes all local building codes and is generally equal to or stricter than the International Residential Code. HUD code standards, for example, are equivalent to local and regional home building standards for areas prone to hurricane force winds.
Quality assurance is provided by both the manufacturer’s inspection assurance team that conducts in-plant inspections and by third-party HUD monitoring contractors. Local building inspectors check the work completed on site, such as gas and electric hook-ups, but are not required to approve the whole structure.
Most residential locations allow modular and manufactured homes, provided they meet local minimum size and covenant requirements, although some neighborhoods may restrict construction that requires heavy equipment.
Both manufactured and modular housing offer architectural flexibility and design creativity, with extensive customization options, so you can design an affordable and luxurious home that works for your lifestyle.
Roy Diez is a freelance writer and marketing professional specializing in the architectural, building and construction industry. He is a former editor-in-chief of Professional Builder magazine.